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The Tapes

A Touch Of Despair

Label: Unexplained Sounds Group, Luce Sia

Format: CD

Genre: Electronic

In stock


*200 copies limited edition* The project "The Tapes" by Giancarlo Drago developed over a span of 10 years, between 1982 and 1992, before being revived in 2016 in Genoa, Italy. In 1982, Drago was 16 years old and recorded his first tape using toy instruments and creating loops with cassettes, influenced by industrial and new wave music. During that time, a friend gave him a self-built analogue echo unit that produced an incredible background noise, which would become a hallmark of many compositions, along with the radio that Drago constantly used as a sound source in the years to come. Later, Drago incorporated analogue instruments such as the Korg MS-20, the Roland SH-101, a Roland TR-707 drum machine, and the Casio SK-1, which introduced him to sampling (which he would extensively use in his future productions), along with a Tascam 4-track for recording.

Chance and error as a form of art are recurring themes in The Tapes' work. "The screeching of a car outside, my mother passing by, while I'm recording, and talking to me. I manipulate the sounds and keep everything." The production of The Tapes during the 1980s was extensive, even though only a few things were actually published. One tape for Technological Feeling of F:A.R. in Savona, a tape for Minus Habens by Ivan Iusco, a track on the vinyl "Amen 8" by the Amen collective in Milan, and other tracks on compilations associated with fanzines of the time.

In the final years of the decade, Giancarlo's brother, Roberto, joined The Tapes project, merging his artistic identity with Giancarlo's. Compositions from 1989 onwards were recorded on an 8-track reel-to-reel recorder and using a "real" sampler. The best production from that period came together on the tape "Il tempio," revised and corrected over time, and reissued by Luce Sia in 2017 with the title "Time Out of Joint." 

"A Touch of Despair" dates back to 1986. It was recorded live on a standard 2-track cassette recorder, using a 4-channel Fostex mixer, the infamous echo unit, a Korg MS-20, and toy instruments like a plastic trumpet. It is undoubtedly the darkest and most industrial work in The Tapes' production. The cover features a photo of what the musician saw from his bedroom window (where he recorded): the rooftops of industrial factories, with a distant steel mill emitting smoke. Immersed in the music and industrial culture of the time (Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire, W.S. Burroughs, J.G. Ballard, W. Gibson, B. Sterling, P.K. Dick), "A Touch of Despair" represents one of the brightest examples of the Italian "tape culture" of the 1980s, as well as a significant testament to creating music that defies the passage of time by experimenting with extremely limited technical means and relying on passion, motivation, and creativity.

Reissued on CD in collaboration between the Unexplained Sounds Group and Luce Sia, with mastering by Raffaele Pezzella, the cd features three additional unreleased tracks from the same period when the tracks of "A Touch of Despair" were composed, providing valuable material for enthusiasts of the genre. "The two lengthy tracks of "A Touch of Despair" were recorded nearly forty years ago, yet they have a contemporary feeling as if they were produced yesterday. The music of The Tapes serves as an ideal soundtrack for my darkest and most solitary nocturnal reflections." - Raffaele Pezzella 

Cat. number: USG093, 098
Year: 2024
cd comes in 6 panels matt digipack tracks 3,4,5 previously unreleased (recorded in the sessions of 1986, the year of the creation of the original tape.).

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